In Belarus, in the city of Brest, there is a spectacular Railway Museum, which was opened in 2002.
The Brest Railway Museum’s exposition is dedicated to the history and traditions of rail transport in Belarus.
On an area of nearly three hectares, you can see 70 pieces of railway machinery in the open air: locomotives, prewar, wartime and postwar steam locomotives, steam cranes, a collection of passenger cars from 1903 to 1940, sanitary and staff cars, a railroad car with an anti-aircraft gun, a station electric clock from 1953, a railway station bell, and many other rare exhibits.
A steam locomotive made in 1926 and a diesel locomotive that delivered a delegation to the Potsdam Conference are the pride of the museum.
A special feature of the Brest Railway Museum is that most of the exhibits are still in use. This allows them to be used for filming and various thematic excursions.
In the Brest Railway Museum the exhibits can be viewed not only from the outside, you can also see most of the exhibits from the inside.
The museum is very much loved by Brest residents as well as visitors to Brest. It is popular both among adults and children, but especially to visitors from all over the world interested in railway technology and history.
You can visit the Brest Railway Museum during our Brest tour that also features the spectacular Brest Fortress, Białowieża National Park, Polesia Region and many other remarkable places.
World Teachers’ Day has been celebrated every year since 1994 on 5 October.
In the former Soviet Union, Teachers’ Day was established in 1965. The first Sunday in October was designated as the day of celebration.
To this day in Belarus, as well as in Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine, Teacher’s Day is celebrated every first Sunday in October.
Of course, teachers are congratulated on the eve, at work. It remains traditional to congratulate teachers with flowers, sweets and good wishes from students.
One way of congratulating teachers is the “self-governance day” held in some schools. On this day pupils do their own lessons and teachers rest and only observe. All kinds of competitions and concerts are also held in schools on this day.
There is probably no other cultural and linguistic area in the world with such a vast geography as the post-Soviet one. It is easily 10,000 kilometers from Minsk to Vladivostok, and yet for children from Minsk in Belarus, from Chuchotka beyond the Arctic Circle in the Far East, from the depths of Mongolia or from Tajikistan, September 1 looks the same. It’s off to school, for many for the first time.
The origin of this holiday is officially attributed to 1984, when the relevant directive was adopted, but Soviet children began to start the school year on September 1 back in 1935. After the outbreak of World War I, young socialists initiated an annual International Youth Day to hold anti-war actions and peace lessons in schools in all countries. September 1 has been the date of World Youth Day since 1932, at the suggestion of the Comintern for Youth. And as early as September 3, 1935, by a decree of the Council of People’s Commissars and the Central Committee of the Communist Party, a single start for classes in all schools in the USSR was introduced on September 1.
Prior to that there was no strict date for the start of the school year. During the Russian Empire urban schoolchildren began their studies in late August – early September, and in rural areas – on December 1. This was due to the fact that the village children helped their parents to run a large farm, and could not go to school until the end of all the field work.
The first school day of the year begins with a solemn ruler, as well as a lesson of peace and knowledge, which has become a good tradition.
There is another wonderful tradition, inherited from the Soviet times: to give teachers flowers for the beginning of the school year, so children go to school on September 1, armed not only with bags, but also with flowers, which makes the whole atmosphere a holiday.
This year in the spirit of this holiday opened the doors of the International German School, the first in Minsk, and in general in Belarus. It gathers under its arches children not only from Belarusian families but also families who came from Germany and other countries. Agata Sidorovich, a German woman who not only fell in love with Belarus as the motherland of her husband, but also managed to create a piece of Germany in Minsk, realized this wonderful project. The project of German kindergarten, which has been successfully working for 4 years, grew and was complemented by the school project, where according to Belarusian traditions, on September 1, but with traditional German Schultüten, first graders went to their first lesson. You can watch the interview with Agata on our YouTube channel.
Among the highlights:
Minsk – Grodno – Belarusian Maledives – Białowieża National Park – Brest and Brest Fortress – Nesvizh castle – Naliboki National Park – Vitebsk and Polotsk
Discover beautiful Belarus with us and join our small group tours. Breathtaking nature, a vibrant cultural life and friendly and relaxed people awaiting you. Thanks to our experienced English-speaking guides, an absolutely safe and unique travel experience.
A journey to a country that has more to offer than its reputation: a long history under a wide variety of cultural and political influences and an eventful 20th century. As an important transit country for the flow of goods between East and West, it is integrated into modern Europe despite current developments. Minsk, a city of around 2 million people, is crisscrossed by the river Svisloch and numerous parks. Not only are there wide boulevards in the Soviet confectionery style, but also evidence of constructivist architecture from the 1920s and picturesque old town alleys. In addition, there is much worth discovering behind the scenes, not least wonderful people who do not want to be forgotten by “Europe”, as they are also a part of it.
The trip will provide you with a comprehensive insight into the country and its people. We will visit vibrant cities like Grodno, Brest and of course Minsk, explore natural landscapes that have become rare in Europe: untouched expanses, vast swamps and impenetrable forests, dotted with small and large bodies of water, crisscrossed by an infinite number of water veins. It will involve tours far off the beaten track, overnights in cosy home-stays in the wilderness of the two most spectacular national parks, Naliboki and Bialowieza, and the chance to see the last free-living European bisons and other rare species. You will meet with locals of all walks of life and get an authentic picture of nowadays Belarus. Book now!
Please note that as of 15. July 2021, there is no more quarantine restrictions in Belarus with a valid vaccination certificate (accounts for all vaccines).
Available dates for 2021/22:
November 6th – November 17th 2021
January 15th – January 26th 2022
May 7th – May 18th 2022
August 20th – August 31st 2022
Genealogical research is always a journey into the unknown. We all know that we have ancestors, we may even know exactly or approximately where they come from, but we cannot initially imagine the result of the research. For many, this uncertainty frightens and stops them at the beginning of their journey. Even we, the people directly involved in the research, don’t always know what the outcome of our work will be.
But today we’d like to tell you the story of a successful search, which may inspire you as well.
The geography of genealogical inquiries is very wide, we are approached by people, without exaggeration, from all over the world. Just like that, one February day we received a request from Canada, from Scarlett.
Scarlett wanted to find information about her grandfather’s family, who had emigrated to Canada at a young age. And although her grandfather had managed to visit his family in the 1970s, Scarlett didn’t have much concrete information to latch onto. Of the main ones, the exact date and approximate place of grandfather’s birth, the village of Mihalki or some of the surrounding villages. Our genealogy expert Alexander determined which Orthodox parish Mihalki and other nearby villages belonged to. Fortunately, metric books (birth registration books) for the needed period in this parish weren’t destroyed during the wars and were kept in the Grodno Historical Archives. That’s why our inquiry to the archives brought us the first result: the record of the grandfather’s birth. Such records contain an indication of the place of residence of the parents of the newborn, as well as the names of the parents and godparents. Thus, the amount of accurate information increased.
A small digression:
East Slavic names consist of 3 parts: surname, first name and patronymic. The patronymic indicates the name of the father, used in a certain grammatical form.
Therefore, having the full name of a person, you can tell what his or her father’s name was.
This peculiarity of names is very helpful in genealogical research.
So, we now had the exact place of birth, it turned out to be the village of Mihalki itself; the names of the parents and the names of the parents’ fathers, i.e. the grandfathers of the newborn.
Our task now was to find information about the supposed siblings of Scarlett’s grandfather. We had no exact names, only the anglicized version of the sister’s name, no birth dates either. In such cases, of course, it is logical to make a request to the archives, to check all available metric books for the coming years for other birth records of children to the same parents. This is a long and time-consuming process. But in our case it was not necessary.
The fact is that while working on this request, our researcher Alexander found a book of memories on the Internet, written by former residents of the village of Mikhalki about their ancestors and other residents of the village. There was no mention of Scarlett’s grandfather in the book, but many other people with the same last name were described. But whether we would find brothers or sisters among them was to be determined.
The already mentioned feature of Slavic names, namely “patronymic”, came to the rescue.
Among all the villagers mentioned in the book with the last name we found one whose patronymic was the same as that of Scarlett’s grandfather. The year of birth of this Michalok resident also matched. There was one more thing, the book said he had a sister. The sister’s name did not match the name Scarlett gave us. But in Belarusian, as well as in Russian, there is a peculiarity in everyday speech to abbreviate names. So, one of the possible abbreviations of the name of the sister mentioned in the book was quite consonant with the English name that Scarlett told us. The puzzle seemed to add up, but we could not claim that the person described in the book was Scarlett’s grandfather’s brother 100%. To confirm our assumptions, we asked the archives for a birth record for the alleged brother. Upon receiving the archival record, we breathed a sigh of relief, the names of the parents and even the godparents in Scarlett’s grandfather’s birth record and in the birth record of the alleged brother matched completely. Hooray!
Now it remained to find the contacts of Scarlett’s living relatives, and we learned that they existed from the same book.
It was time to contact the authors of the book. It should also be mentioned that Vera Ivanovna Yudchits (Zakharova), the author of the book, and her sister, Maria Ivanovna Yudchits have created, in addition to the book, a family museum in the house of her grandfather in the village of Mikhalki. Now the museum is a meeting place for relatives and countrymen.
We called Maria Ivanovna, and that very evening we had the phone number of the second cousin of Scarlett, who lives with his wife in Brest.
A few days later the first Skype “conference” between relatives from Canada and Belarus took place.
We hope their communication will continue. After all, there are still many questions that Scarlett would like to find answers to. I would also very much like, that Scarlett with her family one day visited the native places of her grandfather, visited the family museum in the village of Mikhalki.
In conclusion, we would like to thank Scarlett for trusting us to find information about her grandfather’s family. And also to express our gratitude to Vera and Maria Yudchits for keeping the memory of their ancestors alive, for writing a book about the inhabitants of the village of Mikhalki and thus, unexpectedly for themselves, helped Scarlett find her relatives.
The Belarusian Government has allowed citizens of 73 countries to come to Belarus without visas for vaccination.
According to the Ministry of Health, as of 15 July, foreigners from 73 countries are allowed to enter Belarus without a visa for five days for vaccination against COVID-19.
Vaccination of foreigners against COVID-19 is planned to be carried out on a paid basis in medical organisations determined by the Ministry of Health.
- Commonwealth of Australia.
- the Republic of Austria.
- Republic of Albania.
- Principality of Andorra.
- Antigua and Barbuda.
- Kingdom of Bahrain.
- Kingdom of Belgium.
- Republic of Bulgaria.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina.
- Republic of Vanuatu.
- Vatican City State.
- United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
- Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
- Republic of Haiti.
- Republic of The Gambia.
- Federal Republic of Germany.
- The Hellenic Republic.
- Kingdom of Denmark.
- Commonwealth of Dominica.
- Republic of India.
- Republic of Indonesia.
- Republic of Iceland.
- Kingdom of Spain.
- Republic of Italy.
- Republic of Cyprus.
- Republic of Korea.
- State of Kuwait.
- Republic of Latvia.
- Lebanese Republic.
- Republic of Lithuania.
- Principality of Liechtenstein.
- Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
- Republic of Northern Macedonia.
- Republic of Malta.
- United States of Mexico.
- Federated States of Micronesia.
- Principality of Monaco.
- Republic of Namibia.
- Kingdom of the Netherlands.
- Republic of Nicaragua.
- New Zealand.
- Kingdom of Norway.
- Sultanate of Oman.
- Republic of Panama.
- Republic of Peru.
- Republic of Poland.
- Portuguese Republic.
- Independent State of Samoa.
- Republic of San Marino.
- Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
- Republic of Seychelles.
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
- Republic of Singapore.
- Slovak Republic.
- Republic of Slovenia.
- United States of America.
- Eastern Republic of Uruguay.
- Republic of Finland.
- French Republic.
- Republic of Croatia.
- Czech Republic.
- Republic of Chile.
- Swiss Confederation.
- Kingdom of Sweden.
- Republic of El Salvador.
- Republic of Estonia.
Next to Christmas, Easter is the oldest and most important Christian holiday.
More than three quarters of all Belarusians are Orthodox Christians. This year, Orthodox Christians celebrate Easter on May 2.
On the Saturday evening before Easter, the faithful go to church for the service, which lasts all night until morning.
Traditionally, the symbols of Easter are the so-called kulich (Easter cake) and painted eggs. These dishes are consecrated in the church during the service on the eve of Easter and brought home.
Easter cakes are traditional baked goods based on yeast. They are baked according to special recipes and beautifully decorated. Unlike the usual yeast dough, other ingredients are added to the dough for the kulich: butter, eggs, sometimes cream instead of milk. This keeps the kulich fresh for a long time.
The Easter egg is a sign of new life. Orthodox people usually paint Easter eggs red, this tradition has been around for centuries. There is a legend from the Gospel of John that Mary Magdalene brought an Easter egg as a gift to the Roman Emperor Tiberius to announce the resurrection of Christ. Tiberius replied that no one could be brought back to life, just as a white egg could not suddenly turn red. And in the same second the egg turned red.
Cakes and painted eggs take a place of honor on the festive table. The morning meal after a strict fast is an important moment in the celebration of Easter.
Carnival celebrations with the so-called Butter Week (Russian: Maslenitza) are over and Orthodox believers have begun Lent, which will last until Easter. In Russian, Lent is called Великий пост (in English: the Great Lent).
Lent is the most important and strictest fast in Orthodoxy, established in memory of the fact that Jesus Christ fasted in the desert for forty days. This fasting period lasts for 7 weeks. In 2021, Lent lasts up to and including May 1, 2021.
Lent is associated with strict dietary restrictions. Foods such as meat, milk, eggs, cheese, sour cream, cottage cheese, butter, soft bread and baked goods fall under the complete ban; under partial ban – vegetable oil and fish.
For those who are not completely fit in terms of health, the Church allows exceptions. Above all, spiritual purification and contemplation are the main focus during Lent. Fasting in the Orthodox Church also implies a certain moral attitude, which means the rejection of worldly pleasures and spiritual purification.
After Lent, the faithful look forward to the holy feast of Easter. In 2021 we celebrate Easter on May 2.
You can learn more about religions in Belarus here.
We would also be happy to show you the diversity of religions in Belarus on site and invite you to one of our trips on the topic.
Did you know that apart from New Year’s Eve Belarus also celebrates the so-called Old New Year?
The Old New Year came into our culture together with a calendar change.
In 1918 the Bolshevik government decided to change the calendar. Tsarist Russia lived by the Julian calendar, while Europe lived by the Gregorian calendar. The difference between the two calculation systems was 13 days and caused difficulties in international political and economic relations.
The Russian Orthodox Church did not agree with the transition to the Gregorian calendar and did not move away from the Julian calendar. That is why Christmas is still celebrated on January 7 in our country, while in Catholic countries it is celebrated on December 25.
Traditionally, the Old New Year is celebrated on January 13 in all countries where the Church follows the Julian calendar. These holidays are celebrated in the countries of the former Soviet Union, but also in Greece, Serbia, Montenegro, Algeria and Tunisia, amongst others.
In Belarus the two “New Years” are still celebrated – the old and the new. So in the night from January 13 to 14 can once again afford to celebrate properly.
The Julian Christmas and the old New Year thus also extend the holidays, for example, in Russia the year starts with long New Year vacations, which usually last until around January 10. In Belarus, only January 7 is a holiday. Old New Year itself is not an official holiday.
In the past, before the Old New Year there was a tradition of a kind of carol singing. Young people and children dressed up and went singing from house to house. They asked for sweets, money and small gifts. It was customary to shower the heads of households with grain, a symbol of wealth and prosperity. The belief was that this would bring peace and prosperity to the house in the new year.
This belief has survived in many places, and so the tradition lives on, especially in the countryside.
You can learn more about customs and traditions surrounding Christian Orthodox holidays in Belarus here.
Recently, the church where the last king of the Rzeczpospolita was buried was renovated and reopened. In Vowchyn (Belarusian, Russian: Volchin), a village in the Kamenetz district 35 km from the city of Brest, the first mass was recently held again in the church dedicated to the Holy Trinity.
The church was built in 1729-1731 at the expense of the Krakow nobleman Stanislaw Poniatowski. When his son Stanislaw August, the last king of the Polish-Lithuanian state, was born, he was baptized here.
In 1938 the remains of the last king, who died in Saint Petersburg, were transferred to Poland (at that time Volchin belonged to Poland) and buried in the Holy Trinity Church.
In the mid-1950s the church was closed and given to a collective farm, which used it as a warehouse. The burial place of the last king was looted. In 1988, remains of Poniatowski were handed over to Poland. The ashes of the king were buried in the Church of St. John in Warsaw.
In 2007 the building in Volchin was handed over to the faithful and two years later the restoration of the church began, which has now been completed.
You can visit the Holy Trinity Church during our Brest trip.